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Music Teacher magazine is the essential meeting point and resource for music education practitioners.

Whether you teach class music, or are a peripatetic/private instrumental teacher, Music Teacher will provide you with invaluable ideas for your teaching, with substantial online lesson materials and a range of practical features. Packed with reviews, news, comment and debate, as well as the latest jobs, professional development opportunities and fantastic special offers, Music Teacher is all you need to teach music.



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Lesson Materials

Welcome to the Music Teacher online teaching materials. Every month Music Teacher publishes materials for KS3,4 and 5, offering complete units of work, GCSE and A level set-work info and activities, and practical ideas across all levels. All materials are written by experienced teachers and examiners and provide indispensable content for your classroom teaching.

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December 2014

Key Stage 3

A Day in the Snow

Author: John Kelleher

There is no shortage of options when it comes to Christmas activities at Key Stage 3. Singing carols, using sleigh bells and all manner of festive musical options present themselves. One of my favourite things about the Christmas season has to be the weather, and the snow in particular. In a bid to encourage the forces of nature to bestow us with some snowfall, this unit can be a lot of fun to complete with your pupils during the winter. Not that you want a snow day, of course ... Read less...

Key Stage 4

Making the most of Christmas carols

Author: David Ashworth

Every year we sing carols and Christmas songs, but we don’t always give much thought to how we can make the most of these near-universal resources. Most of our students, regardless of faith or background, will be familiar with the tunes of popular carols. In the run-up to Christmas, we hear them in schools, shopping centres, on TV and radio, in churches, on the streets and in many other places. There’s no way we can avoid becoming very familiar with these tunes … and we can use them as a starting point for exploring a range of musical features in our lessons.
This resource provides suggestions and ideas that the teacher can use, adapt and extend. They can be used as starter activities or as more fully fledged lessons and projects, and they can be reworked to suit a range of ages and abilities. Read less...

General

KS3/4/5: Bach's Christmas Oratorio & Christmas No.1s

Author: Alan Charlton

This article will take a look at two contrasting examples of Christmas music 250 years apart.

In the first section, primarily aimed at KS5 students, we will explore Bach''s Christmas Oratorio, in particular how he and his librettist combined Biblical passages, Lutheran chorales and newly written text to create a varied but highly unified dramatic and musical structure. An associated extension activity will focus on arranging and elaborating chorales for an instrumental ensemble.

In the second part, geared towards KS3 upwards, we turn to the Christmas No. 1, and we will explore what qualities give a song a Christmas feel and look at the different types of song that have dominated the charts in previous years. This will include extension activities of creating a cover of a song for a whole class, using a similar working technique to that of the 1984 Band Aid team, and a tool for assessing how ''Christmassy'' a song or other piece of music is. Read less...

November 2014

Key Stage 3

Setting meaningful homework

Author: Jane Werry

Homework can be organised so that it builds upon what is done in class, and can even have the double benefit of saving time in lessons so that more class time can be spent making music. It can extend students’ musical horizons and develop their research skills. From the point of view of keeping your senior managers happy, it can also be a source of written work that can be marked for spelling, punctuation and grammar, fulfilling literacy policies without having to do lengthy written tasks in lessons.

In this resource I describe the homework projects that have been developed in my department to run alongside the projects we do in lessons. Content, success criteria, administration and marking are covered in detail. Teachers and students alike have found these homeworks worthwhile and enjoyable, but all schools are different, and you may need to adapt these ideas to suit your students. Read less...

Key Stage 4

GCSE composition part 2: exploiting texture, instrumentation, timbre and dynamics

Author: Alan Charlton

The first part of this resource (in August 2014) looked at melodies, phrase structure, simple chord progressions and harmonic rhythm. With the aid of this, students should be able to compose a 16- or 32-bar melody with a simple chordal accompaniment. This second part explores some of the many ways in which an idea like this can be enhanced by the use of instrumentation, texture, timbre and dynamics. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Pre-U Music: Topic C1 Latin Church Music: Victoria's mass and motet O quam gloriosum

Author: Hugh Benham

The Cambridge Pre-U syllabus''s Topic C1 is Latin church music in continental Europe during the late Renaissance (c1530-c1630). The motet O quam gloriosum and the related mass by Victoria are the prescribed works for 2016 to 2018. They form the principal focus of this article: material on the topic generally is easier to come by than detailed information on the prescribed works.

Some comments on the prescribed works will of course assist general study of the topic, for example those on parody mass technique. The article ends with some outline information on different types of mass, and remarks on the four �schools� of composition listed in the syllabus. Read less...

October 2014

Key Stage 3

Musicianship games and activities

Author: Harriet Power

This resource includes a selection of games and activities – some sillier than others – that are designed to improve ensemble, musicianship or listening skills. We all know how easy it can be for students to forget about these aspects of music making in favour of ‘getting the notes right’ or improving technical ability, and how easy it can be to get to Grade 8 without actually being very good at listening or playing musically with others. The music classroom can be a great place to try to address these issues.

Almost all of the ideas that follow use performance in some way, so even the ones that are focused on listening aren’t simply listening tests or passive activities. Where possible, we’ve tried to include an element of competition to provide that extra bit of motivation for students. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Performing at KS4

Author: John Kelleher

This resource focuses on finding ways to fit performing into your KS4 course in a way that provides a useful and meaningful contribution to the musical life of the school. The methods suggested apply to any KS4 music course, be it one from any of the GCSE exam boards, the BTEC or Rockschool. Following some of the suggestions here should also give your pupils a wide choice of recorded repertoire to select from when deciding what to submit for assessment. The details of assessment and the expected quality of work will form the basis of a future resource. Finally, the suggestions here should also prove to be quite fun and, in many respects, take some of the pressure to provide extra-curricular music off your shoulders. Why have a music department and conduct yourself? Read less...

Key Stage 5

AQA AS set work: Haydn Symphony No. 104 in D (London), first and third movements

Author: Alan Charlton

Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 in D (London), movements one and three, is the new AQA set work for AS level for section B of unit 1 MUSC1 Influences on Music, replacing Beethoven’s First Symphony.

This article will first look at the background to the two movements, and will then go on to explore their structure and Haydn’s use of melody, harmony, tonality, rhythm, texture and instrumentation. Read less...

September 2014

Key Stage 3

Teaching notation musically

Author: Jane Werry

In recent months there has been a veritable storm over the ways in which notation is taught in schools. What I aim to do here is outline some practical ideas for teaching notation in a musical way: I do not claim that these are the best ways to teach notation, but they are ways that work for me, and that I consider to have musical integrity. Along the way I will examine the whys and wherefores of teaching notation, and attempt to unpick the thinking processes that are involved for students. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Edexcel GCSE Area of Study 4: Celtic and Indian music – wider contextual learning

Author: Simon Rushby

In an increasing number of schools now, preparatory work for the GCSE course is being done in Year 9. Even though in most cases a lot of students in a Year 9 music class will not be planning to take the subject for GCSE, there is nothing to stop teachers from planning a programme of study that is inspired by the GCSE set works.
The two submitted compositions for Edexcel’s GCSE need to be linked to two different Areas of Study, encouraging students to be influenced by not only the set works but also other music that might be encountered. Area of Study 4, which includes the ‘world music’ set works from Scotland and India as well as Burkina Faso, contains a rich heritage of inspiration for student compositions – if not in the actual styles of the set works themselves, then perhaps taking some of the techniques found in Celtic folk song, Indian raga or African balafon music.
In these teaching materials, I suggest some lesson ideas for Year 9 or 10 students, using the Celtic and Indian set works as a starting point for wider listening or composing work. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Holiday and extra-curricular ideas

Author: Hugh Benham

All teachers and students need the longer school and college breaks for vital relaxation and refreshment, not least in Years 10 to 13. But when the pressure has been off for a while and energy levels revive, well-motivated students may value ideas for things to do.
Some extra activities for for Christmas, Easter or summer holidays can be directly related to exam requirements(harmony exercises, essays, etc). Others may be freer, but perhaps equally beneficial. It is with activities of this second, broader kind that the present article is concerned.
Not all of these will be suitable for every student. Be selective, and adapt everything to individual needs. A few activities might occasionally be used in term time when you, as teacher, can provide more guidance and support than with holiday activities. Read less...

August 2014

Key Stage 3

Samba

Author: Harriet Power

Samba is a fun, energetic and highly rhythmic genre that is closely associated with the Rio carnival in Brazil (dubbed by some the greatest party on earth). It’s primarily a percussive style of music that will very much test your students’ listening and ensemble skills, and the main part of this resource is dedicated to learning some typical samba rhythms and then thinking about how they could be structured into a whole-class piece. We also suggest a couple of composition projects, one of which focuses on creating a percussive piece of samba, and the other that looks at writing a samba song with a harmonic accompaniment. Read less...

Key Stage 4

GCSE Composition: introducing students to harmony and phrase structure

Author: Alan Charlton

One of the many new challenges facing students when they begin GCSE music is that of composing a complete piece of music by themselves. Previous experience, such as group improvisations or experimenting with loops using a sequencer, should already have introduced them to creating and manipulating musical ideas, but the jump from this type of activity to formal composition, which demands the creation of more refined musical material that can be developed into a coherent whole, can be a daunting one.

This resource is aimed at students who have little or no experience of formal composition, but it can also be used as refresher material for more advanced students. It aims to teach the principles of harmony, harmonic progression and phrase structure, which form the basis for creating material in most musical styles. Although all the examples are based on staff notation, equivalents are provided for less confident readers using note names, chords and so on, and the activities are given for those working using pencil and paper, notation software and computer sequencers. (Two projects are suggested, which could be submitted for Edexcel, AQA or OCR GCSE). Read less...

Key Stage 5

Edexcel A2 'Continuity and Change' set works 2015: part 2 - Schumann, Tippett, Armstrong and Cage

Author: Simon Rushby

The seven Instrumental Music set works for Section C of the A2 examination in 2015 include music by Corelli, Haydn, Beethoven, Schumann, Tippett, Cage and Louis Armstrong, covering four major periods in the history of music.

I will look at each set work from an ''elements'' viewpoint, so that hopefully students and teachers can use this resource as a useful revision tool. As we examine each work, we will focus on melody, rhythm, harmony, tonality, texture, instrumentation and structure.

The focus of study is continuity and change of musical style over time, from the point of view of the elements listed above - how musical style has changed from one work to another, and common features the works might share. It follows that the questions in Section C, which have to be answered in essay form, will be asking students to compare and contrast some of the set works with special focus on two or three of these elements. In the exam, students will be presented with a choice of two essay questions, though they only have to answer one. Read less...

July 2014

Key Stage 3

Music assessment in a post-levels world

Author: Jane Werry

With the announcement of the abolition of National Curriculum levels from September, music teachers find themselves in an exciting yet unsettling position. An end to levels, with their woolly terminology and distortion by senior leaders into something they were never intended to be, is very welcome. Yet there are no suggestions as to what should replace them, other than vague assertions that schools and departments should formulate their own plans.

There is a vacuum here that needs to be filled. This is a great opportunity for us finally to have a system that suits music teachers and the way that we work. We will need to stand our ground and fight for this, in a climate where lazy SLTs are suggesting that they will just continue with the old levels anyway, or introduce the use of GCSE grades across Key Stages 3 and 4. Surely the possibility of having a sensible, workable system is worth the effort? In this resource I outline my ideas for such a system. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Edexcel GCSE Area of Study 2: music in the 20th century – wider contextual learning

Author: Simon Rushby

Only brave teachers allow time to stray away from the requirements of the specification when teaching GCSE, given the small amount of curriculum time usually given to music and the need to complete the course in, effectively, five terms. But the Edexcel specification is set up to encourage crossing over between, for example, the study of set works and composition coursework, so any ideas that can strengthen that link are always good to know about.

In an increasing number of schools now, preparatory work for the GCSE course is being done in Year 9. Even though in most cases a lot of students in a Year 9 music class will not be planning to take the subject for GCSE, there is nothing to stop teachers from planning a programme of study that is inspired by the GCSE set works.

The two submitted compositions for Edexcel’s GCSE need to be linked to two different Areas of Study, encouraging students to be influenced by not only the set works but also other music that might be encountered. Area of Study 2, which covers the set works by Schoenberg, Bernstein and Reich, tends in my experience to yield quite a lot of student minimalist compositions, but fewer who are inspired by the Bernstein song Something’s Coming or Schoenberg’s Peripetie.

Below, then, I suggest some lesson ideas for Year 9 or 10 students, using the set works as a starting point for wider listening or composing work.
Read less...

Key Stage 5

Composition at Key Stage 5

Author: John Kelleher

Regardless of the exam board you choose, regardless of whether you teach music or music technology, and regardless of whether you offer A level, BTEC, RSL or another course, many pupils will find composing at Key Stage 5 much more demanding than what was expected of them during Key Stage 4.

This can be for a variety of reasons: the length of the composition; the raised expectations that they should demonstrate a wide vocabulary of melodic, harmonic and structural devices; or just that pressures of A level study are getting to them. This resource is intended to be a simple and straightforward approach to preparing your students for this step up. To that end, each approach has been divided into three sections:

- Working with limitations
- Overcoming composer''''s block
- Out-of-the-box thinking

This scheme of work for composing is far from exhaustive, but it should give you a bank of ideas and help you in generating your own. Read less...

June 2014

Key Stage 3

Marketing music

Author: Harriet Power

Marketing and self-promotion are vital to the success of any musician, no matter what genre they’re performing in. In fact, it’s often said that when you’re starting out, marketing is more important than content creation. Some even say that you should spend 80% of your time marketing and just 20% creating.

Given its importance, it’s arguably something that should be considered more often in the classroom, and it’s a great way to learn about the music industry as a whole. Working out how to market a product requires critical and creative thinking. In addition, being able to market and promote yourself is a valuable life skill for anyone, not just budding musicians.

This resource starts by looking at why marketing is so important – including a brief overview of changes in the music industry – and presents a run-down of ideas for how to market yourself as a musician. This is followed by four project ideas that, with a bit of adapting, could be slotted into almost any scheme of work (although the last two are more specific to classical and world music respectively). Read less...

Key Stage 4

Workshopping Handel's 'And the Glory of the Lord'

Author: John Kelleher

Handel''s ''And the Glory of the Lord'' from Messiah is the first of the GCSE Edexcel set works, and perhaps isn''t the stereotypical candidate for the whole-class workshopping model. A classroom full of guitarists, drummers and turntablists is hardly the most obvious ensemble with which to approach a Baroque oratorio! The real strengths of the workshopping model, however, are that it is flexible and can focus on musical concepts rather than context. Any music can receive the workshopping treatment with the right approach, and this resource seeks to give you some ideas to get going on this. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Edexcel A2 ‘Continuity and Change’ set works 2015: part 1 – Corelli, Haydn and Beethoven

Author: Simon Rushby

Edexcel has, as ever, set seven instrumental set works for Section C of the A2 examination in the summer of 2015, and these include examples from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and 20th-century periods of music. We have examples of chamber music, solo piano music and music for string orchestra, as well as an iconic moment in the history of jazz. We also have to get to grips with the avant-garde work of John Cage and the
prepared piano. Read less...

May 2014

Key Stage 3

Making assessment worthwhile

Author: Simon Rushby

Assessment tends to draw groans from students and teachers alike. It reminds teachers of endless nights of marking, paperwork and data-crunching; and for students, nearly every day seems to contain a test, common task or formal assessment.
Additionally, assessment in music might be seen by students as based on taste or opinion, unfairly weighted in favour of those who have more musical experience, and too dependent on others in group work.

However, heads of department, senior leaders and inspectors all wish to see evidence of progress for every student, so the trick is to build assessment into everyday classroom teaching without increasing the workload of teachers or stressing out the students. The big challenge is to make assessment in music fair to all, irrespective of their musical experience outside of the classroom. The students whose parents are paying for them to have instrumental lessons shouldn’t have an unfair advantage over those who perhaps cannot afford them, and it is certainly not fair to assess four students in a group based on that fact that one uncooperative member could not be cajoled into playing their part sensibly.

How effective are the methods you use for assessment? We need to remind ourselves constantly about why we are assessing our students. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Indian music

Author: Harriet Power

Indian music is a part of all three GCSE exam specs in one way or another: as a set work for Edexcel; as part of Areas of Study 2 and 3 for OCR; and in the third Strand of Learning for AQA. In order to try to be as useful as possible to all three exam boards, this resource is going to focus on classical music from north India. When we talk about Indian music as a world-music style, this is generally what we (and the exam boards) tend to mean.

Indian classical music can be difficult to get to grips with and teach in an interesting way, so the focus of this resource is to learn about the core components of the music through practical activities. For all three exam boards, this basic understanding will prove to be useful – although, of course, Edexcel students will probably want to go into more depth, and specific information related to Edexcel’s set work Rag Desh has also been included.

Typically, Indian classical ensembles consist of three musicians: a drummer who carries the rhythm, a singer or instrumentalist who performs the melody, and a third musician who provides a constant drone. These are the three elements that we’ll focus on in this resource. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Notation and presentation of musical scores

Author: Hugh Benham

A musical score may be created for use in performance, for submission in an examination, or even for a potential publisher to see. It may be the original from which multiple copies are to be made. It is in everyone’s interests that it should not only be correct but also look as professional as possible.

This article is written primarily with KS5 in mind, but will, I hope, be useful at various levels. It will focus chiefly on setting up a score, layout, some less straightforward aspects of notation, and performance directions. Read less...

April 2014

Key Stage 4

'Grace' by Jeff Buckley: a Musical Futures approach

Author: John Kelleher

With Jeff Buckley''s ''Grace'' being one of the Edexcel GCSE set works, it would not be difficult to find an in-depth analysis of the song. Rhinegold Education, Pearson and even BBC Bitesize all provide valuable materials for understanding the context and musical content of the 1994 track.

It would not be unfair to suggest, however, that most of these resources are focused on highlighting a series of facts that pupils can memorise and then re-apply in the examination at the end of Year 11. Although there is certainly a need for this sort of study material, a more musical exploration of many of the key concepts will help to ensure that learners retain them and are able to apply them to their own music making in the future.

This resource aims to make use of workshopping strategies both to teach the set work and to ensure that learners are confident enough to explore some of the song''s more distinctive features when composing their own music. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Edexcel A2 Applied Music Set Works 2014 part 2: Wagner, Horner and 'Yellow Bird'

Author: Simon Rushby

The five Applied Music set works for the A2 Unit 6(6Mu06) examination in June 2014 include music covering a period of over 400 years. The first two, by Taverner and Haydn, were covered in the first part of this article last month. The next work plunges us into the mire of 19th-century music drama with the famous Prelude to Wagner''s iconic opera Tristan und Isolde. Then we examine a music cue from James Horner''s score for the 1997 film Titanic, before dipping a toe into the traditional music of the Caribbean and the catchy song ''Yellow Bird'', played in the calypso style of Trinidad and Tobago. Read less...

Edexcel AS Unit 3 Vocal Set Works 2014: revision – Stravinsky, Weelkes and Schubert

Author: Alan Charlton

This article is based on the notes provided on the Edexcel website on the set works, which can be found here. It will concentrate on helping students to revise aspects of these three works using word puzzles, quizzes, score-based questions, tables and summaries of facts. It is intended to enhance private and classroom revision and should be used to support material already given to students in lessons. Read less...

March 2014

Key Stage 3

Blues

Author: Harriet Power

Blues is a bit of an old chestnut at KS3, but for good reasons: it’s a convenient style for learning about chords and scales; its simple and somewhat formulaic nature makes it easy to perform and compose; and it lends itself nicely to vocal work and improvisation. Here we have tried to take advantage of all these opportunities.
This article presents a range of practical activities that follow a roughly sequential order, leading up to performing and composing a blues song. Along the way we take in a prison work song, a number of improvisation activities, an idea for a project where students have to create their own ‘how to’ demo videos, and a quick look at African blues – so even if you already have a well-worn scheme of work on the subject, this resource will hopefully give you something new to add to it. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Making the most of limited music technology resources

Author: John Kelleher

Music technology has had a place in schools for quite some time. In fact, it has been a part of music departments up and down the country for so long that it would be unusual to find a school without some sort of music technology set-up. By and large, this takes the form of computers running one of the major sequencing packages (Cubase, Logic, GarageBand, etc) and audio interfaces connected to a selection of microphones. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Edexcel A2 Applied Music Set Works 2014 part 1: Taverner and Haydn

Author: Simon Rushby

The five Applied Music set works for the Edexcel A2 Unit 6 (6Mu06) examination in June 2014 include music covering a period of over 400 years. Two of the works, Taverner’s O Wilhelme, pastor bone and Haydn’s ‘Quoniam tu solus’ from the ‘Nelson’ Mass, are sacred hymns of praise from, respectively, the Renaissance and Classical eras. Then we are plunged into the depths of Romantic dramatic music in the shape of Wagner’s iconic Prelude to Tristan und Isolde, which, albeit indirectly, influenced many of the film composers of the 20th century, such as James Horner, whose ‘Take her to sea, Mr Murdoch’ from the 1997 film score Titanic is our fourth piece. The final work is completely different – the traditional song Yellow Bird in the calypso style of Trinidad. Read less...

February 2014

Key Stage 3

20th-Century Music

Author: Harriet Power

The title 20th-Century Music could encompass anything from Ravel to Stravinsky to John Cage, but this resource focuses on classical music written after World War II, by composers such as Stockhausen, Reich, Penderecki and so on. It is based around one main activity where students perform an improvised soundscape (initially just using vocal sounds and body percussion, but incorporating other elements into the mix over the course of the project). Along the way, we will explore some of the hallmarks of modern classical works: spatial music, phasing, extended techniques, sampling and graphic scores. All of this will build into a final composition task that requires students to create, notate, rehearse and perform a soundscape. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Musical terminology

Author: Jane Werry

Almost all GCSE music students find the listening exam the hardest part. Why is this? As John Finney points out in his article Sitting by Lake Geneva, much musical understanding is ‘free from the tyranny of language’ – in other words, it is a non-verbal form of cognition. Composing and performing do not need words in order for students to be good at them. However, the listening paper does need words, and an awful lot of them. This is what makes the listening paper hard, and why it needs some special attention. Read less...

Key Stage 5

A Tool to Help with Harmony and Counterpoint

Author: Hugh Benham

The ‘tool to help with harmony and counterpoint’ of this resource’s title is species counterpoint. Although sometimes regarded as old-fashioned and highly artificial, it will, if used diligently, reinforce students’ – and teachers’ – grasp of harmonic and contrapuntal principles, thereby making them more secure in present-day A-level ‘compositional techniques’ or ‘technical studies’, and hopefully also in harmonic analysis. Read less...

January 2014

Key Stage 3

Medieval music

Author: Harriet Power

The Middle Ages were privy to some of the most exciting developments in the history of Western music, including the invention of staff notation and the emergence of polyphony. You can see the music becoming more complex as time goes on in a way that is just not as obvious in later periods, and this can make medieval music a great vehicle for teaching topics that are also going to become increasingly complex. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Something's coming

Author: John Kelleher

There''s no shortage of textbooks and online resources providing an analysis of Bernstein''s ''Something''s Coming''. Not only is it a song from a musical that''s attracted a huge amount of study in the academic world''s continuous desire to label it as an opera, a musical or both, but it''s very presence in the set works for Edexcel''s GCSE Music has ensured that it has spawned some resources that are pitched at just the right level for the students that you will be teaching it to (Pearson, Rhinegold and BBC Bitesize being some of the first that spring to mind). In order to avoid duplicating materials that exist elsewhere (and probably on your classroom shelf), this resource is not intended to provide an in-depth analysis of the piece but, rather, is aimed at exploring how practical, performance-based strategies can be employed to cement pupils'' understanding of key musical concepts. Much of this resource is aimed at providing teachers with ideas as to how they can workshop the piece in a manner similar to that discussed on the Musical Futures website. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Music in context

Author: Hugh Benham

People that we meet often make a strong immediate impression, favourable or otherwise. But significant interactions over time involve our knowing something of their circumstances, likes and dislikes. It is somewhat similar with a piece of music. Heard the first time and without context it may evoke strong feelings. But there can be misconceptions, and opportunities for fuller appreciation will pass us by. Read less...

December 2013

Key Stage 3

Christmas music from around the world

Author: Harriet Power

If you’re bored with performing the same old Christmas carols and songs in school year on year, and are looking for something a bit different to do, then this resources is very much for you. It’ll introduce you to eight very different (and sometimes slightly obscure) Christmas songs from around the world, from a traditional Catalan carol to a Christmas reggae song to an Ethiopian Orthodox chant. Basic notation is provided for each song (melody and chords, sometimes with an additional harmony line), and a bit of advice on how to arrange it.

There is also a little context about the music, and a look at some of the more unique Christmas traditions from around the world. Our trip will take us through Nigeria, Bulgaria, Jamaica and Ireland among other places, but first we’ll start in
South America…
Read less...

Key Stage 4

Christmas Compendium

Author: Jane Werry

The autumn term is always a long one, and you may find yourself approaching its last couple of weeks with a lack of inspiration together with a desire not to start on a big new project until the New Year. Fear not: this resource aims to give you a range of ideas that can fill two or three lessons at the end of term with something festive and fun, while still being relevant and musically worthwhile. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Composing Christmas Carols

Author: Alan Charlton

Christmas carols are a highly popular musical form and their relative simplicity makes them an ideal topic for a short end-of-term composing project. This can also provide valuable practice for AS or A2 students embarking on composition coursework related to words and music, or can provide a creative outlet for chorale harmonisation techniques.

This resource will look at different types of carols and will cover all the stages of carol composition from start to finish: finding a suitable text, selecting voices and instrumentation, choosing or creating an appropriate musical style, structuring the carol, setting the words, composing a melody, devising an accompaniment, creating contrast across the verses, and ensuring that the carol is practical and idiomatic. Read less...

November 2013

Key Stage 3

Reggae

Author: Harriet Power

Reggae music is one of those stalwart KS3 topics, but it still seems to be a subject where it is difficult to find relevant materials for the classroom that go into any real depth, so allowing you to feel confident about the subject without having to wade through numerous textbooks and websites. I hope that this article has managed to strike the right balance: it goes into some depth about the background and musical characteristics of reggae, but even if you don’t share all of this information with your students, it should provide a solid foundation that enables you to feel confident about leading performance and composition tasks with some sense of stylistic awareness. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Recorded Music Performance

Author: John Kelleher

Recorded Music Performance is unit 231 of the Level 2 Rockschool qualification for Music Practioners. This unit is a great way to prepare learners for the requirements of working as a session musician in a recording environment and gives them an insight into the workings of a recording studio. The requirement to record eight minutes of music in just two hours might sound straightforward but the expected use of recording techniques to deliver a polished performance raises the challenge considerably. For those that are unfamiliar with the Rockschool course, a brief introduction to the course is provided before looking at this unit in depth. Read less...

Key Stage 5

IB HL/SL: Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle and Gershwin: An American in Paris

Author: Alan Charlton

Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle and Gershwin’s An American in Paris are the two prescribed set works for IB HL and SL for examination in the May and November sessions in 2015 and 2016. Knowledge and understanding of the set works is tested in Section A of Paper 1 (the listening paper). In this section, three questions are set, from which students have to answer question 3, comparing the two set works, and then choose from either question 1 or 2, which are on the respective individual works. Students have clean scores of the set works with them in the examination. Each question carries 20 marks, so the set works account for 40 out of 140 total marks for the paper at HL and 40 out of 120 marks for SL. Read less...

October 2013

Key Stage 3

Motivating Students Who Don't Like Music

Author: Jane Werry

In an ideal world, all of your students would bound into your classroom, bursting with excitement about what you are about to do in your lesson. The truth is that students? enthusiasm for music is often something that has to be won, and as teachers we need to plan how we will achieve this. It may not be easy, and what works with some students may not work with others, but what I hope to do here is give you some ideas for motivating students who feel that music just isn?t their ?thing?. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Music of the Caribbean

Author: Harriet Power

World music is one of AQA''s three strands for GCSE Music, and within that strand Music of the Caribbean is one of the topics covered. This means that Caribbean music may come up on the listening exam (Unit 1); judging from past papers, most of the questions are not likely to require specific knowledge of Caribbean music, except perhaps for when it comes to identifying Caribbean instruments (such as steel pans. However, Caribbean music can be a fun way to explore AQA''s five areas of study regardless, and can also provide some great starting points for performance. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Music and Sound for the Moving Image

Author: John Kelleher

Music and Sound for the Moving Image can contribute to the BTEC Level 3 in Music (Certificate, Subsidiary Diploma and Diploma) as well as the BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Music Technology. The use of film music in the classroom has become dramatically more prevalent as computers have become more powerful, allowing even a modest classroom computer to synchronize music and video using even some of the more affordable software packages. The nature of GCSE and A-Level specifications often means that these resources reside purely in the Key Stage 3 bracket but this BTEC unit allows learners to take advantage of them for this more sophisticated level of study. Read less...

September 2013

Key Stage 3

Andean music

Author: Harriet Power

Most people are familiar with the imagery associated with the Andes and Andean music: brightly coloured ponchos, rainsticks, llamas, Incan ruins, condors, and haunting panpipe melodies. You''ve probably seen the buskers on the street. But Andean music hasn''t penetrated UK classrooms in the way that a number of other world musics have, which is a shame because in many ways it?s perfectly suited to classroom use: the music is lively and energetic, with catchy melodies that stick in your head; it''s an easy style to compose and perform in; and there are numerous cross-curricular links to be made. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Flipping the Music Classroom

Author: Simon Rushby

We all want to teach outstanding lessons where student engagement is at a maximum, skills are being honed and applied in all types of ways, and there is constant reference to prior learning - ideally by the students themselves. We dream of classes where students do not need to be reminded of the relevance of skills they learned last week, last term or last year. This is particularly true in music, where we might spend a lesson learning about texture, apply the learning in a composition exercise – only to find our students have forgetten how to write a balanced melody (despite an entire unit on melody writing the previous term). The idea of this article is to introduce you to the idea of flipping and give you some tools and ideas to experiment with. Read less...

Key Stage 5

AS OCR Set Work: Beethoven Symphony no.5 in C minor, First Movement, Unit G353

Author: Alan Charlton

Beethoven Symphony no.5 in C minor, First Movement is the third of the new Prescribed Orchestral Scores for the topic of the 18th/early 19th century Orchestra that OCR have introduced for first examination in June 2014. The other two are Handel, Water Music, Suite no.2, and Horn Concerto no.4 in E flat major, K.495, Third Movement have been covered in the online resources for May 2013 and June 2013. This article will look briefly at typical exam questions for this paper, then go on to explore Beethoven''s background, the Classical symphony, his contribution to its development and the context in which his Symphony no.5 was written. Read less...

August 2013

Key Stage 3

African music

Author: Harriet Power

Africa is a vast continent with hundreds of different ethnic groups and thousands of languages; with landscape that varies from deserts to mountains to rainforests; and with ways of living that take in everything from traditional rural villages to cosmopolitan cities. Unsurprisingly, the music of Africa is just as rich and varied, and it is impossible really to talk about African music as one entity. Read less...

Ukulele

Author: Jane Werry

This resource is designed to give teachers who have never played the ukulele an introduction to the instrument, including tips on what to buy and how to play. It also gives some ideas for how to use the ukulele in your KS3 teaching, and how to set up an extra-curricular ukulele group. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Sequencing Systems and Techniques

Author: John Kelleher

Sequencing Systems and Techniques (Unit 32) can contribute to the BTEC Level 3 in Music or Music Technology and offers students the opportunity to gain a secure understanding of both the technological and musical sides of computer music making. The unit requirements are thorough enough to be sure that students understand both the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of music technology but not so demanding that they (or their teachers) should feel daunted by what, for many, may be a completely new area of study. Read less...

July 2013

Key Stage 3

Chords and keys

Author: Jane Werry

Ofsted rightly make a distinction between knowledge about music and knowledge of music. One of the greatest things you can do for your students’ understanding of music is to give them a grounding in the way that notes fit together. For me, this has been at the heart of knowing how music really works, and is a huge part of being a ‘real’ musician. Personally, I found learning harmony at school rather scary, as it seemed to be terribly esoteric and always just a little bit beyond my grasp. Understanding it seemed to be some sort of club of which I was most certainly not a member. However, having taught it for a number of years now I can see that it doesn’t have to be nebulous or frightening. A little harmonic understanding can boost students’ confidence no end, and form a bedrock upon which you can build all sorts of other projects.

This resource is something of a pick’n’mix selection of ways to approach teaching the basics of harmony to your KS3 students. Whether you adopt it as a topic in itself, or incorporate parts of it into other projects you do, is entirely up to you. Read less...

Key Stage 4

OCR GCSE: Salsa

Author: Harriet Power

Salsa is a brash and energetic style of music that can hardly fail to put you in a good mood. This article has been written with the OCR GCSE specification in mind (as Area of Study 3 features salsa as one of its ‘paired dance’ styles), but could also be used to devise a scheme of work for KS3. We will take a look at:the origins of salsa and its development from Cuban son; the musical features of salsa and what makes the style so distinctive; a few of the most famous salsa musicians.

This article also gives some suggestions for performing salsa – including a GCSE-friendly transcription of a Celia Cruz song – and composing salsa – including a step-by-step guide for arranging a piece in a salsa style. Read less...

Key Stage 5

AS Edexcel Instrumental Set Works 2014: Debussy Pour le Piano, Sarabande (NAM 24), Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor, Op.34: movement III (NAM 18)

Author: Alan Charlton

Edexcel have prescribed four set works under the Instrumental Music list for the 2014 exam. This article will examine two of these, by Brahms and Debussy.

As this paper has followed the same format since 2009, it is tempting to concentrate solely on a list of facts students need to learn about each work, perhaps at the expense of a deeper understanding of the pieces themselves. This article’s main aim is to enable the set works to be appreciated first and foremost as pieces of music, through listening, analysis and detective work. All the necessary musical terminology will of course still be covered during the course of the article, but the primary focus is on developing an understanding of the works themselves. Read less...

June 2013

Key Stage 3

A trip through Latin America

Author: Harriet Power

This article will take you on a trip through Latin America, starting in Mexico, travelling through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest, before ending in Brazil. With a whole continent to cover this is something of a whirlwind tour that cannot possibly take in every country or musical genre, but the hope is that the snapshots provided here could be used as a solid starting point for creating a fun unit of work on Latin American music. The background and contextual information is accompanied by transcriptions and analyses of characteristic pieces, which can be used as a basis for performance or composition. Read less...

Key Stage 4/5

Music Education Expo 2013: a roundup of some ideas

Author: Jane Werry

The Music Education Expo at the Barbican this March was a fabulous opportunity for teachers to gather new ideas and inject a new burst of enthusiasm into their teaching: a truly modern CPD experience. If you were able to go, you will undoubtedly have come away inspired by some of the things you saw and heard. However, you may have been frustrated by not being able to get to all the sessions that you wanted to, or perhaps you were unable to come at all. Here I''''ve gathered together some highlights from the sessions across both days, in an attempt to plug some of the gaps. I cannot claim to be exhaustive here, this is my own personal choice of things I hope you will find interesting and useful. Read less...

Key Stage 5

AS OCR Set Work: Mozart Horn Concerto no.4 in E flat major, K.495, Third Movement, Unit G353

Author: Alan Charlton

Mozart Horn Concerto no.4 in E flat major K.495, third movement is one of the three new prescribed orchestral scores for the topic of the 18th/early 19th century Orchestra that OCR has introduced for first examination in June 2014. Handel, Water Music, Suite no.2 was covered in the Music Teacher online resources for May 2013 and this article is intended to follow on from this, particularly looking at how the orchestra Mozart was writing for built on Handel’s orchestral writing.

This resource will look briefly at typical exam questions for this paper, then go on to explore Mozart’s back -ground, the classical style, the classical concerto and the context in which his Horn Concerto no.4 was written. There is then a detailed analysis of the form of the third movement and its relationship to the instrumentation. Mozart’s handling of individual instruments and instrumental groups is comprehensively covered and this is followed by a short comparison of the Handel and Mozart set works, advice on transposition and some practice questions. Read less...

May 2013

Key Stage 3

Disco

Author: Jane Werry

he sheer catchiness of disco makes it a style KS3 classes love, despite its perception as being ‘old’ and embarrassingly unfashionable. Students will quickly learn to embrace the retro as it is simply so much fun, and along the way there are opportunities for performing, composing, and developing musical understanding which you would be foolish to dismiss. Added to this, there are possibilities for examining the cultural context of disco, its fashions and dance steps, together with its not inconsiderable influence on later styles of dance music. Read less...

Key Stage 5

AS OCR Set Work: Handel Water Music, Suite no.2 Unit G353

Author: Alan Charlton

Handel Water Music, Suite no.2 is one of the three new Prescribed Orchestral Scores for the topic of the 18th/early 19th century Orchestra that OCR have introduced for first examination in June 2014. This article will look at typical exam questions for this paper, then go on to explore Handel''''s background and the circumstances in which the Water Music was written. There is then an overview of the suite as a whole followed by a detailed analysis of each movement, examining in particular Handel''''s use of instruments and instrumental forces. Finally, there is a section on instruments of the time, advice on what to listen for when spotting differences between two different performances and some practice questions. Read less...

Contemporary Songwriting Techniques

Author: John Kelleher

Contemporary Songwriting Techniques (Unit 34) from the BTEC Level 3 in music is a brilliant unit for drawing out the creativity of your pupils whilst also encouraging them to broaden their musical horizons. The grading criteria essentially encourages students to research a variety of musical styles, write their own songs in a range of styles and then put their work together in a portfolio.

The requirement for a portfolio of songs is a big jump from the expectations of GCSE music, where students only have to compose two pieces of music in as many years. As a result, students need to generate a lot more material than they are used to and may need more support from their teacher, in an environment where they feel safe to share their ideas and receive honest feedback. Achieving this can be an important step along the way to developing the skill of selecting and rejecting material that will result in a portfolio featuring songs of a consistent standard rather than the (far easier to achieve) portfolio of one great song and a few fillers.

The ideas below are intended to help you create such an environment and provide pupils with a practical approach to generating lots of material quickly. I usually deliver this unit over two terms with two lessons a week dedicated to it. Read less...

April 2013

Key Stage 3

Minimalism

Author: Jane Werry

Minimalism fits into a KS3 scheme of work very nicely: it’s an art music style that is accessible, with processes that can be understood easily with or without conventional notation as an aid. It will probably be at least a little familiar through its use in film scores and perhaps through its influence on dance music. However, it is probably different enough from your students’ usual listening diet to broaden their musical horizons.

It is also extremely flexible; whatever your working setup in terms of instruments and IT, this project will work perfectly with any combination of resources. In this guide, I aim to show you strategies for introducing minimalist techniques to students in a way that will help them understand the style, and then create their own minimalist compositions to a specific brief. Read less...

Key Stage 4

OCR GCSE Creative Task, Unit B353

Author: Alan Charlton

Appearing as it does in the early part of the summer term, the Creative Task is easy to underprepare for, as lesson time is often squeezed by overrunning coursework and revision and practice for the Listening exam. However, it is important to remember that the Creative Task is worth 20% of the final GCSE mark: in other words, the same as the whole of the Listening Paper, so a good performance in it can gain a student a significantly higher overall mark.

The Creative Task is essentially a composition and/or improvisation task. Students are given a choice of six stimuli: a rhythmic phrase; a note pattern; a melodic phrase; a chord sequence; a set of words; and music to describe a sequence of events. The student may request any of them to be played once, and then chooses one of them, which is played to them twice more. They can also record the teacher playing their chosen stimulus, but they cannot integrate this recording into their submitted work: they need to play or input all the musical material themselves.

The student then has 45 minutes of supervised time to develop the stimulus into a short composition. In the last 5 minutes of their supervised time, the student must submit their composition. This might be in the form of a recording of a live performance, a recording of an ICT-based composition or a notated score (handwritten or otherwise). Read less...

Key Stage 5

Texture in Analysis and Composing

Author: Hugh Benham

This article is for teachers (and students) preparing for any music examination in which consideration of texture is important. It does not focus on any particular examination syllabus. First there is consideration of what texture means in general terms, and then investigation of various types of
texture, with the aid of musical examples. Later some matters connected with textural variety are looked at from the composer’s point of view. Some short tasks are provided in the hope of encouraging students to develop their compositional technique. The scope of music in the 21st Century is so vast that coverage cannot be comprehensive. The focus is chiefly on those ‘classical’ styles from which it is possible to provide musical examples without copyright restrictions. Read less...

March 2013

Key Stage 5

British Popular Music (OCR A2 Topic 6, AQA AS British Popular Music since 1960)

Author: Jane Werry

Whether you are teaching OCR A2 Topic 6, or AQA AS British Popular Music, questions cover specific topics to do with the works covered, and for both of these courses candidates will be writing short essays in the exam. The aims here are also very similar:
„„ Write concisely and precisely
„„ Demonstrate an understanding of technical language
„„ Support points made with musical examples
„„ Focus on the music rather than biographical detail
What I intend to do here is take two of the OCR set works, Sergeant Pepper and A Night at the Opera, as starting points, as these fit in with the scope of the AQA specification. I will give brief revision notes and key terms for each, and then go on to compare them with related repertoire from the same decade. This will be different from the repertoire covered in the Rhinegold Study Guide, and will also provide useful comparisons for the AQA course. Read less...

Edexcel AS Instrumental Set Works 2013 Revision: Debussy, Poulenc and Reich

Author: Alan Charlton

This article is based on the notes provided on the Edexcel website on the set works (Debussy, Prelude de l''apres-midi d''un faune; Poulenc, Sonata for Horn, Trumpet and Trombone: movement I; Reich, New York Counterpoint: movement II). To access these, go to www.edexcel.com - qualifications - GCE from 2008 - Music - Teacher Support Materials - Music Set Works 2013. It will concentrate on helping students to remember the main points about each of these three works using acrostic puzzles, quizzes, mnemonics, tables and summaries of facts. It is intended to enhance private and classroom revision and should be used to support material already given to students in lessons.

As there is a significant amount of information to be learnt on each set work, students need to be able to recall the key features of each work together with supporting examples. They will not have access to a score in the exam, so this all needs to be learnt from memory. Read less...

OCR GCE Music: Prescribed Orchestral Scores (June 2013 and January 2014) by Haydn and Beethoven: further work and revision

Three scores are prescribed for OCR AS Unit G353: introduction to Historical Study in Music for the examinations in June 2013 and January 2014. Here we consider two:
- Haydn, Symphony No. 103 in E flat (Drum roll): movement IV, the finale
- Beethoven, Concerto in D for violin and orchestra, Op. 61: movement I
Information on both works was given in the online article OCR GCE Music: Prescribed Orchestral Scores (June 2012-January 2014): Haydn and Beethoven (Music Teacher, July 2011): please refer to this as required. The aim here is to consider revision methods and to build on some aspects of work for Unit G353 not dealt with in detail in the previous article. Read less...

February 2013

Key Stage 5

AQA A2 Set Works 2013 Revision: Elgar Symphony no.1 in A flat major and Shostakovich Symphony no.5 in D minor

Author: Alan Charlton

This revision resource has been written to support the Music Teacher articles on the new AQA A2 set works: Elgar Symphony no.1 (May 2012) and Shostakovich Symphony no.5 (July 2012).

Remembering analyses of set works is notoriously difficult – particularly with the current crop, which are both long and complex – so this resource is intended to make the process easier. Specifically, it will hopefuly help students to identify structural, thematic and tonal points of interest in a clean score so that they will be able to find them quickly and confidently in the exam. For reasons of space, information on context, orchestration and other aspects of the set works are not covered here – please refer to the articles from May and July 2012 for help on these areas.

This resource can be used in lessons on set work revision, or given to students to help with private study. Note that as the analyses are based on the labelling system of the May and June 2012 Music Teacher resources, you should check that it will fit in with what your students have been taught. Read less...

OCR AS: Introduction to Historical Study in Music � Jazz 1920 to 1960, prescribed works for June 2013 to January 2015

Author: Owen Leech

Since these prescribed jazz recordings serve as a basis for questions in two distinct sections of the Introduction to Historical Study in Music paper, I shall begin by examining each work in some detail - with a few exercises on the way - and then provide a list of questions of the kind that generally recur for the contextual essays in Section 3 of the paper. These will hopefully be helpful both for group discussion and individual research and essay practice. Read less...

Vocal music for Edexcel AS Music

Author: Jane Werry

Questions 1, 2 and 3 of the Unit 3 exam are all about knowing the set works inside out. With, at most, a skeleton score to prompt candidates and give a reference point for their answers, they need to acquire an extremely thorough knowledge of the features of each of the pieces, and be able to express these succinctly when the pressure is on.

This resource focuses on three of the set vocal works for 2013. For each piece I will give a rundown of key words and stylistic and compositional features, together with ideas for revision lesson activities and practice questions. Read less...

January 2013

Key Stage 3

Tango

Author: Jane Werry

I have a theory that the only people who don''t like Tango music are ones who have never heard it. There is something wonderfully appealing about its melodiousness and heart-on sleeve melodrama. It is also a tremendous vehicle for covering some really meaty musical concepts with your classes, with a dash of cultural context, and opportunities for social, moral, spiritual and cultural development. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Effective music breakouts at GCSE

Author: Anthony Anderson

Is it possible to follow a GCSE course without any practical music-making? Sadly, the answer is yes. I constantly meet music teachers who have had this experience during their own education. But is this the best way to learn about music? Definitely not. It is like learning about art without drawing or drama without acting. And learning how to manage such musical activity in the classroom can be a significant challenge. This resource aims to set out some working principles, ideas and approaches as well as some practical starting points for maximising breakouts as a model of musical learning. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Edexcel A2 Applied Music Set Works 2013: Part Two

Author: Simon Rushby

The five Applied Music set works for the A2 Unit 6 (6Mu06) examination in June 2013 include music covering a period of over four hundred years. The first two, by Gabrieli and Bach, were covered in Part One of this article. For the next two works, we enter the world of twentieth century film music, with Bernstein?s Symphonic Suite: On the Waterfront from 1955, and Goldsmith''s The Hunt (opening) from his score for the 1968 film Planet of the Apes. The final work is an extract from the traditional Balinese Baris Melampahan, a very ancient dance recorded here by the modern Gong Kebyar ensemble from Sebatu in Bali, Indonesia. Read less...

December 2012

Key Stage 3

Canons

Author: Alan Charlton

Canons and rounds appear frequently in music education, from the classroom singing of simple rounds such as London’s Burning and Frère Jacques to GCSE and A level set works by composers such as J.S.Bach, Webern, Bernstein and Steve Reich. However, when composing using notation or sequencing software, canons, despite being fairly easy to create using cut and paste techniques, do not always produce a convincing result. So how can you teach students how to write successful canons?

Starting with some performing of canons, which can involve ICT, this resource looks at how simple canons work, focusing on London’s Burning. It then explores how you can go about composing a round on similar lines. A ‘Canon Composing Kit’ is provided which enables students with little knowledge of music notation to write their own four-part canons by following simple step-by-step instructions. Finally, the resource looks at more intricate types of canons, with some optional accompanying activities.

The resource could be used to provide material for 2-4 lessons, depending on how much time is spent on the performing and composing activities. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Indonesian Gamelan for OCR GCSE Music

Author: Jane Werry

This resource follows on from the one written by Sam Gladstone (Spring term 1, 2010/11, available on the Music Teacher website). In it I hope to give you practical strategies for delivering the performance part of Sam''s resource in a student-centred, hands-on, yet entirely musical way. The aim here is to immerse GCSE students into the world of the gamelan using classroom instruments to explore the musical features of the performance piece Ricik Ricik in preparation for a composition task.

The composition itself comes under the heading of ''a composition for a group of two or more players'', and is an opportunity to explore sequencing programs in a way that will appeal to your students. This, I hope, will present a number of benefits: deep understanding of the musical characteristics of gamelan music which will enable your students to handle whatever questions the listening exam may throw at them; a successful composition which can be submitted for the B352 practical portfolio; and an introduction to aspects of music tech that may pave the way for uptake at KS5 in this area. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Edexcel A2 Applied Music Set Works 2013: Part One

Author: Simon Rushby

The five Applied Music set works for the A2 Unit 6 (6Mu06) examination in June 2013 include music covering a period of over four hundred years. Two of the works, Gabrieli''s Sonata Pian''e Forte and Bach''s Cantata 48, Ich Elender Mensch (movements 1-4) come from, respectively, the late Renaissance and late Baroque periods. Then, for the next two works, we jump ungainly into the world of Twentieth Century film music, with Bernstein''''s Symphonic Suite: On the Waterfront from 1955, and Goldsmith''''s The Hunt (opening) from his score for the 1968 film Planet of the Apes. A further huge change of culture is then made to the final work - an extract from the traditional Balinese Baris Melampahan, a very ancient dance recorded here by the modern Gong Kebyar ensemble from Sebatu in Bali.

These five works, which I am covering in two separate articles, the second of which will be published in January, are to be studied in preparation for Section B of the Unit 6 paper, in which students have to answer two questions from a choice of three. Rhinegold''''s Edexcel A2 Music Study Guide provides background and analysis of these works which I will try not to repeat too much of in these two articles. My focus will be specifically on how the music ''''works'''' in the context for which it was intended, as all five of these works were intended for some kind of event, be it church service, movie or dance drama. Read less...

November 2012

Key Stage 3

A Christmas stocking of one-off (or two-off) lesson ideas

Author: Jane Werry

As you reach the final straight of the marathon that is the autumn term, you may well find yourself with one or two lessons to spare with your KS3 classes. You may have finished a project and be unwilling to start a new one with the holidays looming. What is required at this point is a collection of ideas for filling one or two lessons with something festive, fun and still musically and educationally fulfilling.

Because you will no doubt be concerned with a million other things in the run-up to Christmas - not least of which will be keeping going and hanging on to your sanity - here is our present to you. A selection of ready-made lessons, all with a Christmas theme and practical activities, with which you can fill up what would otherwise be dead time at the end of term. Read less...

Key Stage 4

OCR GCSE: the classical concerto/AQA GCSE: the concerto

Author: Alan Charlton

The concerto appears in both the current OCR and AQA GCSE specifications. In the OCR specification, the topic of the Classical Concerto appears within Area of Study 2, Shared Music, and is used as an example of music that contrasts one solo instrument with orchestra, with knowledge being tested in the Listening Test (Unit B354). Detailed knowledge of specific compositions, composers and dates is not required: questions are based around listening skills, and are likely to focus on how the instrumental forces interact with each in a concerto, terminology associated with concertos and the classical period in general. The Unit B352 composition could draw on musical principles found in concertos (for instance in a virtuoso piece for a solo instrument with keyboard accompaniment).

In the AQA specification, the concerto appears under Strand 1, The Western Classical Tradition. The AQA strands are used as a basis for students to develop an understanding of the five areas of study (Rhythm & Metre, Harmony & Tonality, etc.). This knowledge is tested in the Listening Test taken at the end of the course. Knowledge of specific composers, dates and so on is not required: as with the AQA specification, the exam is focused on the elements of music and listening skills.

This article is primarily geared towards the OCR specification, but could equally be used for the AQA specification. It will introduce the concept and general background of concerto-style compositions, and then explore solo writing and how the soloist and orchestra interact, through a worksheet based on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no.4 in G major, Movement III and other recordings of cadenzas. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Creative approaches to teaching the Edexcel A level Anthology

Author: Anthony Anderson

For many A level music teachers, covering the set works in the Edexcel anthology can seem like a challenge. Can a set work ever be as inspiring to students as it was to those who heard it when it was first composed? Is it possible to bring some of the passion the composer might have felt for the music into their classroom? If so, how? This resource seeks to set out some creative approaches to teaching set works that should make the experience that little bit more enjoyable for students. Read less...

October 2012

Key Stage 3

Programme music: a project based on Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre

Author: Jane Werry

Descriptive music is a bit of an old chestnut for KS3, and while its appeal is clear, it is all too easy to fall into a trap of open-ended oversimplification e.g. ‘go away and make something up to describe a haunted house’. Used effectively, it can be a way of bringing ‘meaty’, compositional devices centre stage in a really practical
and immediate way.

This project takes an accessible and well-known tone poem and uses it as a launch pad for students to consolidate
their understanding of how musical elements work together, taking their knowledge of musical techniques
- particularly in the areas of harmony and texture - into new areas. While a wealth of theory is covered, it
is done in a very hands-on way, and encourages students to put their understanding into use with a composition
project that can be adapted for your particular way of working. Read less...

Key Stage 4

BTEC Firsts: The Development Of Music

Author: Benji Vincent

Offered here is an assignment brief that fully covers one of the optional units in the specifications for the Edexcel 2010 Level Two BTEC Firsts in music as part of the Extended Certificate and Diploma qualifications. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Teaching composition for Edexcel AS music

Author: Simon Rushby

The Edexcel AS Level Music course has two coursework units � 6Mu01, which is a performing unit, and 6Mu02, which is a composing unit. Both units are completed under controlled conditions in the centre during the course of the year, and unusually for coursework, the composing unit is marked externally following submission to Edexcel, the deadline for which is in May.

In many teachers� experiences, the composing unit is the �great unknown� of the Edexcel AS course. The purpose of this resource is to give teachers some guidance, ideas and possible strategies for allowing students the best possible chances for gaining good marks. Read less...

September 2012

Key Stage 3

Folk music

Author: Harriet Power

When thinking about the term ‘folk music’ it is easy to conjure up a picture of morris dancers, wheezy accordions, lone fiddlers, and little folk clubs above pubs where the average age is about 60. But this is only one (very stereotypical) side to folk music; since the folk revival in the 1960s, many artists and bands have sprung up that fuse folk with popular music, who often have younger audiences (Laura Marling and Seth Lakeman are just two examples.) Folk music can also be a great springboard for performing and composing projects, and this article incorporates a number of practical activities into a history of English folk music. Read less...

Key Stage 4

OCR GCSE Baroque and Classical Chamber Music

Author: Alan Charlton

Baroque and Classical chamber music is one of the topics under Area of Study 2, Shared Music, of the OCR Specification. It could be covered under Unit B352 Practical Portfolio through a group performance, a composition or both. Knowledge of the medium may also appear in the Listening Test - Unit B354. Baroque and Classical chamber music is ideal for performing and compositional coursework, and to demonstrate many of the musical concepts tested in the listening exam. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Music Technology A2 exam: the essay question

Author: Jane Werry

Often when preparing for exams, you find that a disproportionate amount of time is spent on certain parts of the content. So it is with question 4 of the Music Technology A2 exam: 16 marks that you will spend a significant amount of time chasing. This is due, in part, to the rather vague language of the specification, and the vastness of Area of Study 3 (the development of technology-based music).

You may wish to approach this by giving your students as much relevant information as possible within a short space of time, and concentrate your energy on the coursework component of the A2 course, together with the practical part of the exam. However, the examiners’ reports state that candidates who memorise and regurgitate information without understanding it fully do not score highly, so you will need to ensure that your students have more than a superficial understanding of a wide range of topics.

What I aim to do here is present you with the information that you need on some of the topics which might come up in this year’s exam, to save you preparation time. I will also suggest some possible approaches to teaching and revising the material, and maximising marks in the exam itself. Read less...

August 2012

Key Stage 3

Getting Year 7 off to a flying start

Author: Jane Werry

It’s September. Your Year 7s are sparkling with enthusiasm and untainted by the ennui and lassitude that seems to afflict many secondary students from the middle of Year 8 onwards. You want to capitalise on their shiny zest for school and reel them in so they rapidly become music department natives. How do you go about this in a few short weeks while the sense of wonder at being at a new school is still fresh? What I aim to do here is give you a compendium of ideas to do all of the above, so you can pick and choose the ones you think might work for you. Read less...

Key Stage 4

BTEC Firsts: professional development in the music industry

Author: Benji Vincent

This is an assignment brief that fully covers one of the core units in the specifications for the Edexcel 2010 Level Two BTEC Firsts in music including the certificate, extended certificate and diploma. This assignment briefs cover: Unit 2 – Professional Development In The Music Industry, a core unit option for all of the current 2010 specification BTEC First courses. The aim and purpose of this unit is to show learners how to explore the vast range of career opportunities that
are available within the sector with a view to their own personal professional development and specific interests within the music industry. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Performing well at GCE (A level) music

Author: Hugh Benham

Performance is the area that many students of GCE (A level) music enjoy most and in which they are most successful. Nevertheless, some still underachieve. This resource will look at how teachers can help students attain the best results possible for them. It is hoped that what follows will be of help and reassurance to all, but particularly to those in the early years of their teaching careers. Read less...

July 2012

Key Stage 3

Music and the environment

Author: Harriet Power

Composers throughout history have been inspired by different aspects of the environment. Of course the word ‘environment’ can be expanded to mean almost anything, in the sense that all music is somehow affected and influenced by the surroundings (or environment) in which it is composed. But to narrow the subject down, in this resource I have chosen to focus on music that has been directly inspired by more tangible qualities of the environment, looking at the divide between urban and rural settings in music. The three main sections of this resource look at:
1. Music inspired by birdsong – a popular link to nature for many composers
2. Music inspired by water – likewise, an aspect of the environment that has weaved its way into much music
3. Music inspired by the city – to illustrate how urban environments can also inspire music. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Dance music (OCR)

Author: Jane Werry

Area of Study 3 (Dance Music) covers a wide range of dance styles. The listening exam requires students to understand, and be able to identify, a range of different dance styles. Works can also be used as a stimulus for composition work.

Here you will find resources that will help you explore waltz and club dance through performing, giving students the skills they need to tackle the listening exam, including knowledge of the musical features of each style, its background and the dance steps involved. For club dance, music technology is also explored. Armed with this knowledge, students can then embark on composition projects, and full guidance for these is given here. Chances are, your students will try out several styles for their second composition before they find one that they are comfortable with. Having explored both waltz and club dance, they might choose one to compose in, or you might get them to start compositions in both styles, and see how it goes. Read less...

Key Stage 5

AQA A2 Set Works 2013: Shostakovich Symphony No.5 in D minor

Author: Alan Charlton

Shostakovich’s Symphony no.5 is one of the two set works in Section B of the AQA A2 Unit 4 exam. Students opt to study either this or Elgar Symphony No.1 in Ab Major, which was covered in Music Teacher’s online resources in May 2012.

In the exam, students are given a choice of two essay questions on their chosen set work. Each question is worth 30 marks out of a total of 100 for the exam. Students are allowed to take clean copies of the scores into the exam with them on which they can write bar numbers beforehand. On the basis of the exam questions for the previous set works, typical questions on a set work might include:

1. Discussing its innovative or traditional qualities
2. Discussing how it uses one or more elements of music (melody, harmony, etc.)
3. Writing a commentary on an individual movement, or substantial section of a movement.
4. Discussing its external influences (musical styles, texts, programmes, etc.)
5. Discussing its orchestration

Since the historical and political background to Shostakovich’s Symphony no.5 is particularly significant, questions may centre on the extent to which external factors influenced the symphony. This article will cover the context in which the work was written; structure, including his use of thematic development and tonality; and general musical features, including orchestration, harmony, rhythm and texture. It will also look briefly at the musical subtext to the work, particularly his use of irony and musical meanings that could be interpreted in different ways, and at some of the influences on Shostakovich. Read less...

June 2012

Key Stage 3

Music and propaganda

Author: Harriet Power

As the word propaganda can be applied to any form of media that attempts to persuade others to think or act in a certain manner – whether it is given this purpose by the creator of the media itself or merely by its disseminator – the world of musical propaganda is formidably large. But it can be a particularly interesting way of exploring music’s interaction with politics, and how music propagates or acquires certain meanings.

This resource aims to give you some starting points for exploring music and propaganda with your class. It focuses on three examples that might not seem like the most obvious places to begin, but should help to illustrate the diversity of topics you could study and the wide variety of forms that musical propaganda can take. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Super starter activities

Author: Anthony Anderson

This resource aims to give you a bank of ideas for starter activities you can use with your classes. While primarily aimed at Key Stage 4, many of these activities can be adapted for older or younger students. While some of the ideas can be lifted directly from this resource, the aim is to provide some open-ended ideas you can try – and adapt if necessary – to suit the needs of your pupils. Read less...

Key Stage 5

IB 2013-14 set work: Yellow River Piano Concerto

Author: Alan Charlton

Xian Xinghai’s Yellow River Piano Concerto is one of the two prescribed set works for IB HL and SL for examination in 2013–14, the other being Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony. As the Yellow River Piano Concerto is a new set work – and quite unusual in style and structure – this resource builds on Music Teacher’s April 2012 resource, offering more detailed analysis of the work.

Knowledge and understanding of the set works is tested in Section A of paper 1 (the listening paper). In this section, three questions are set, from which students have to answer question 3, comparing the two set works, and then choose from either question 1 or 2, which are on the respective individual works. Students have clean scores of the set works with them in the examination. Each question carries 20 marks, so the set works account for 40 out of 140 total marks for the paper at higher level and 40 out of 120 marks for standard level.

IB set works tend to be selected to highlight links between different musical traditions and Xian’s Yellow River Piano Concerto, with its strong Chinese and European influences and inseparable relationship to Chinese political and social concerns, is no exception. This resource will therefore approach the work from this angle, with the musical elements being explained in this context. Read less...

May 2012

Key Stage 3

Teaching Bhangra music

Author: Jane Werry

Above all, bhangra is enormous fun. Even if your students have no real knowledge of Asian culture already, they will recognise it (and probably break out into some spontaneous dance moves). Its immediate, super-catchy appeal is what makes it such a winner as a KS3 project. It creates opportunities to explore melody and rhythm, how the style has changed over time and there is also plenty of cultural content to delve into. This resource gives you everything you will need for performing, listening, composing and research activities. Even if you are complete newcomer to this style, I hope to provide you with enough background information and structured activities to create a successful project for your students. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Assessment for learning in GCSE music

Author: Anthony Anderson

With the focus on creative work accounting for such a large percentage of all music GCSEs, AfL is an essential ingredient in effective teaching and learning in the music classroom. But it will not happen by chance. Opportunities for reflective assessment must be embedded into daily practice, rather than considered only as a separate entity at the end of a unit of work. Such an approach enables students to understand the importance of assessment for themselves and to be fully involved in its implementation. Assessment should not be for its own sake or merely as evidence that evaluative processes are taking place. It should be focused, useful and relevant. As a natural outcome, students should understand not just that they need to improve, but how to do it. With that in mind, this resource offers some approaches to try. Read less...

Key Stage 5

AQA A2 Set Works 2013: Elgar Symphony no.1 in A flat major

Author: Alan Charlton

Elgar''s Symphony no.1 in A flat major is one of the two set works in Section B of the AQA A2 Unit 4 exam and students choose whether to study this or the Shostakovich Symphony no.5 (which will be covered in a future resource). This resouce will mostly focus on structure, particularly the ways in which Elgar treats form, thematic development and tonality in the symphony. It will also cover his general approach to orchestration, harmony, rhythm and texture and will provide some context information. Read less...

April 2012

Key Stage 3

Teaching composition using film and TV music

Author: Simon Rushby

Young composers encounter two main problems – having ideas in the first place, and then working out what to do with them. Yet so much inspiration can be derived from studying the very music they spend most of their time hearing. Here are three activities that can be worked into lessons at any stage of the Key Stage 3 music course, or even into early GCSE lessons to provide ideas for first compositions. Read less...

Key Stage 5

New set works for IB

Author: Alex Tester

Teaching a new work can be bewildering, particularly one with such an international flavour, and mixture of different styles. So for the analysis, a structure-based approach makes it easier to digest, taking each section of the colourful score at a time. Within these sections, it’s useful to take students through the individual topic words that the IB syllabus encourages use of. This resource will present you with a guide to analysing these set works along these lines. Read less...

General

Dazzling lessons for observations

Author: Jane Werry

You may be thinking – my teaching is perfectly fine, why should I do anything different when someone comes to observe? – but my answer to that would be to remind you that when you take a driving test, your instructor will tell you to make sure the examiner sees you checking your mirrors. Lesson observations are exactly the same – we want to be sure that the observer is aware of the things we are doing. This resource aims to give you an understanding of what an outstanding music lesson should look and sound like, and some practical ideas for bringing this to life. Read less...

March 2012

Key Stage 5

AQA A2 Set Works 2012

Author: Alan Charlton

Two set works are prescribed for Section B of the AQA Unit 4 exam: Mahler Symphony no.4 in G major and Vaughan Williams Symphony no.5 in D major. Students will have opted to study one of these set works. In the exam, students are given a choice of two essay questions on their chosen set work. Each question is worth 30 marks out of a total of 100 for the exam. Students take clean copies of the scores into the exam with them and are allowed to write bar numbers on them beforehand. The exam questions that have been set so far seem to fall into a few categories, and this article organises information according to these question types which focus on a set work: discussing its innovative or traditional qualities; discussing how it uses one or more elements of music (melody, harmony, etc.); writing a commentary on an individual movement, or substantial section of a movement; discussing its external influences (musical styles, texts, programmes, etc.); discussing its orchestration. Read less...

AQA A2: Four decades of Jazz and Blues (1910 to 1950)

Author: Owen Leech

Since this is a dauntingly vast subject, I think that it is important to provide students with a clear, if necessarily simplified, overview of the period. To this end, I provide a compact, but hopefully fairly comprehensive summary of the origins of jazz, which I hope will help in the answering of various types of question. Then I focus on three specific types of question that have typically been set for this area of study, with guidelines on how to answer them and recommended musicians and repertoire. In the third of these, which deals with the careers of Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker, I look into two historically significant recordings (Louis Armstrong''s Alligator Crawl (1927) and Charlie Parker''s Ko-Ko (1945) in greater depth. These would also prove excellent examples in the answering of various general questions. Read less...

Music and the Stage (OCR A2 and AQA AS)

Author: Jane Werry

Success in the exam depends on two areas: knowing the right stuff and being able to write about it in a way that gains you marks. What I hope to do here is to tease out, through close inspection of past papers, what information needs to be learned, and then give you strategies and materials for consolidating this knowledge and practising essay technique. I also aim to give you ideas which will be easy for you to prepare and deliver while keeping students very busy. After all, these are their exams and they should be working harder than you are. Read less...

February 2012

Key Stage 5

Edexcel revision materials - AS instrumental set works (2012)

Author: Alan Charlton

This resource is designed to support the understanding and memorising of terminology, background information and musical features associated with three of the Edexcel 2012 AS set works: NAM 3 (Berlioz), NAM 15 (Corelli) and NAM 23 (Schumann). Read less...

Revision materials - OCR A2: music and belief (2012)

Author: Jane Werry

Many students find this part of the historical and analytical paper the hardest part of the course. What I aim to do here is give you strategies and materials for tackling all four areas. While they are specific to the music and belief unit, many could be adapted easily for use with any topic. Read less...

Revision materials - OCR and AQA GCE Music: movements from Vivaldi Bassoon Concerto and Beethoven Symphony no 1 (2012)

Author: Hugh Benham

The main part of this resource deals with set works by Vivaldi (OCR) and Beethoven (AQA). Numbered questions on each work and other short tasks are provided for students to use on their own and/or in groups sessions. These are not intended as specimen exam questions, but will help confirm prior learning, or perhaps suggest areas where additional work is needed. Answers are provided. Read less...

January 2012

Key Stage 3

Opera

Author: Jane Werry

Most people, especially our students, have a whole bundle of preconceptions about opera: opera is boring, opera is old, opera is posh and I don''''''''t know anything about it. Bashing these preconceptions is what makes covering opera at Key Stage 3 so much fun. The activities in this resource aim to give students a thorough understanding of what opera actually is, its cultural context, and enough terminology to be able to talk about opera knowledgeably. There is plenty of listening involving a wide range of repertoire, a chance to sing and play opera tunes, and compose an operatic death scene. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Listening: harmony and tonality, and notating melodies

Author: Hugh Benham

The majority of students find it challenging when asked in listening exams to comment on harmony and tonality or identify chords, cadences and modulations, even though these features are vital in conveying a composer''''''''s message. How can teachers help students gain confidence and achieve success in these areas? The final section of this article has some suggestions for how students might get better at writing down melodies played to them (melodic dictation). Read less...

General

How to start and run a successful choir

Author: Benji Vincent

Singing is fun, and proven to be physically and psychologically good for you. But how do you go from singing your favourite songs in the car to becoming a successful choirmaster or director? Starting a choir can seem daunting and overwhelming, but it can be a pleasurable process. Choirs have come back into fashion; just look at the huge hype and buzz that surrounds television shows such as Glee, The Last Choir Standing and (whether we love them or hate them) Gareth Malone''''''''s numerous
programmes on various school, community, and now forces, choirs. Singing appeals to all age groups and generations in so many ways; you just need to be able to tap into this and prove that singing is not ''''''''old school''''''''. Read less...


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